Fri May 31, 2013
Truth In Advertising: Pregnant Ladies Date On 'Pregnant And Dating'
There's a part of basic cable that you might call "soft reality" — the unscripted shows where everybody is nice, almost all the stories are happy, the comedy is mostly gentle, and the main characters are meant to be very sympathetic. Soft reality loves pregnancy and childbirth, as seen on shows like A Baby Story and some of the shows about giving birth to multiples. (Jon & Kate Plus 8 started as soft reality and wound up as something else entirely.)
Soft reality also loves romance, which is most emphatically demonstrated in wedding shows like Say Yes To The Dress. (Not so much wedding shows like Bridezillas — bridal television is bifurcated between brides-are-monsters and romance-is-wonderful.)
So it makes sense that soft reality would eventually take these two things and slap them together, as WE has done with the new show Pregnant & Dating.
It's unfortunate that none of the five profiled pregnant single women are into sweets, because the only thing that soft reality likes more than babies and weddings is cake, and a turducken-style effort called Pregnant, Dating & Baking would have shown even more panache than this.
The basic premise of Pregnant & Dating is that it's hard to date while you're pregnant, because believe it or not, there are men (these are all straight women, so their dating partners are guys) who think that getting involved with a pregnant woman — sometimes a woman a few weeks from giving birth — seems perhaps unnecessarily complicated. And this is treated like a sort of whimsically funny barrier to finding Mr. Right, kind of like the stuff the gals dealt with in Sex And The City.
Note that at least in the pilot, which airs Friday night, the complication is generally not that men will judge a woman for being unmarried and pregnant, as the show is assuming that all these men are pro-premarital sex when they're personally involved. It's really the pregnancy itself. As one of them puts it, he would hesitate with a pregnant woman because he would assume she had just gotten out of, in his words, "something." (He means a relationship. If you need to know more about this "something," National Geographic Channel sent out a press release Friday about a new show they have coming up called Sex: How It Works.)
But while it initially seems like this is going to be some sort of breezy, "you go girl" piece of television all about making it on your own, it quickly devolves into an oversharing, guilt-inducing carnival of awkwardness. Because quite honestly, when a man is out on a date with a woman and there are cameras there and she suddenly announces that she's pregnant, watching him try to keep a straight face and give her a nice, smooth-as-silk, "Ahhhh ... oh .... huh, reeeeeally " is a tiny bit funny. Not because of pregnancy, but because of television.
None of this is to say that dating a pregnant woman necessarily needs to be awkward, but springing it on guys in the middle of videotaped dates (whether that's authentically what's happening or not) is super awkward. And the woman who initially giggles and says that her pregnancy is the result of getting drunk on "Taco Tuesday" then feeling hurt that she doesn't feel very supported by the baby's father is even more awkward, no matter how pro-taco, pro-tequila, and pro-baby you might be. (Her story is actually quite sad when the show isn't making fun of it. That's only one of many tonal problems.)
There's certainly plenty of potential in documentary shows about single women deciding to have kids, and even in shows about how they pursue new relationships. They don't have to be dire; a show about being pregnant could be a good show. This is not that show. This is about what you'd expect from something called Pregnant & Dating.